Assembly woman Nancy Skinner [above] felt so bad about the UCSB murders that she decided to introduce California AB 1014. After sitting with her through a marathon committee hearing last year, I can say with confidence that Nancy knows virtually nothing about firearms. But after reading this legislation, it’s clear she knows even less about the judicial system, due process or the mental health system . . .
Let me be clear here. I am all for enabling family, friends, and mental health professionals work within the bounds of the law to save people from harming themselves or others. We already have psychological holds and other intervention programs. We could clearly use some changes in order to properly define possible issues so real action can be taken while upholding and preserving patients’ rights. Mental health professionals need to be involved in assessing the situation on a case-by-case basis.
Skinner’s proposed law, however, does anything but that. A few highlights:
18101. (a) Any person may submit an application to the court, on a form designed by the Judicial Council, setting forth the facts and circumstances necessitating that a gun violence restraining order be issued. A gun violence restraining order shall be issued to prohibit a named person from possessing a firearm if an affidavit, signed by the applicant under oath, and any additional information provided to the court demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the court, the named person poses a significant risk of personal injury to himself or herself or others by possessing firearms.
On the surface this sounds reasonable enough – except that anyone can file such claims. This will leave the door wide open to rampant false claims. There’s no I repeat no provision for punishment of the accuser for false claims. I’m sure many of you who have filed for divorce have been hit by the false restraining order ploy. It is not much of a stretch to think that this new law would be used the same way. And worse.
18102. (3) A recent violation of an emergency protective order pursuant to Section 646.91 or Part 3 (commencing with Section 6240) of Division 10 of the Family Code.
This attaches the new law to restraining orders. Forget the fact we already have a federal law which covers this; another one will apparently work twice as well. So if your soon-to-be ex decides to really put the screws to you, there’s a good chance you’ll get a knock at your front door.
(5) A conviction for any offense listed in Section 29805.
The current list of misdemeanor violations usually carry a prohibition of 10 years under state law. Ever been in a bar fight? Ever had to defend yourself using fisticuffs, and then wound up getting arrested anyway? I’m not sure why they are tying this to something which already carries a prohibition. This includes burglary, sex crimes, and even many fraud charges, which is a non violent offense.
Section 29805 also references penal code 26100. Basically if you ever get a misdemeanor violation for improperly storing your firearm in your vehicle, you wind up on this list as well. None of this has anything to do with mental health.
(1) The reckless use, display, or brandishing of a firearm by the named person.
Considering that brandishing or displaying a firearm in public is already a crime, unless there’s actually something you can claim with evidence, like a conviction, this makes no sense. All those folks who might have gotten caught printing while carrying concealed now fall under this new law. They did nothing wrong other than pick a shirt one size to small.
What constitutes display or reckless use? That’s open to interpretation. Which means it’s open to abuse. Never mind that, again, it has nothing to do with anyone’s mental state. Unless you subscribe to the idea that simply owning a firearm is a mental issue, then this shouldn’t be in the bill.
Under the same section we have two more inclusions.
(3) Any prior arrest of the named person for a felony offense.
Notice section 3 does not say conviction, but arrest. It doesn’t even say arrest with formal charges. How many people are arrested under suspicion, but later released or acquitted altogether? Even if you are proven innocent, you’d be a covered person under this law. Where is the due process in that?
(6) Evidence of recent or ongoing abuse of controlled substances or alcohol by the named person.
Let’s leave hard drug use out of it, since if you do use illicit drugs you will have lied on your 4473 and thus broken the law to begin with. Let’s say you’re an alcoholic. You go home, have some drinks. You do this daily. You never drink and drive. You have no alcohol-related offenses. You would still fall under the new law. The fact is, if someone wants to drink themselves to death, but isn’t a threat to others, it’s none of the state’s business.
(7) Evidence of recent acquisition of firearms or other deadly weapons.
If you own a gun, and perhaps purchase one every six months on average, this certainly isn’t grounds for alarm. Unless the new law is passed. Notice the language specifies “deadly weapons.” If I buy some rocks or an axe, does that count too? The UCSB killer was reported to have purchased his firearms over a period of time so as not raise any alarm. Again what does this have to do with mental health?
18105. (a) If the location to be searched during the execution of a firearm seizure warrant is jointly occupied by multiple parties and a firearm is located during the execution of the seizure warrant, and it is determined that the firearm is owned by a person other than the person named in the firearm seizure warrant, the firearm shall not be seized if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The firearm is stored in a manner that the person named in the firearm seizure warrant does not have access to or control of the firearm.
(2) There is no evidence of unlawful possession of the firearm by the owner.
(b) If the location to be searched during the execution of a firearm seizure warrant is jointly occupied by multiple parties and a gun safe is located, and it is determined that the gun safe is owned by a person other than the person named in the firearm seizure warrant, the contents of the gun safe shall not be searched except in the owner’s presence, or with his or her consent, or unless a valid search warrant has been obtained.
If by chance your roommate is nuts, you should keep all your firearms locked away. I think this goes without saying. But let’s say you have your firearms out for regular cleaning or you’re getting ready for a range day, when the police come a-knocking. Does the new law mean those firearms will be taken too? It certainly sounds like it.
18106. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (e), not later than 14 days after the execution of a gun violence restraining order and, when applicable, a firearm seizure warrant, the court that issued the order and, when applicable, the seizure warrant, or another court in that same jurisdiction, shall hold a hearing to determine whether the person who is the subject of the order may have under his or her custody or control, own, purchase, possess, or receive firearms and, when applicable, whether any seized firearms should be returned to the person named in the warrant.
This gives a ray of false hope that at least you will get your day in court. However, what happens if you fell victim to section 18105 and now you want your guns back? At this point you have no recourse since the hearing is for the named person, not you. Also what happens if you can’t afford an attorney? Clearly you deserve representation in court. The district attorney has an army behind them. Where is your support?
18250. If any of the following persons is at the scene of a domestic violence incident involving a threat to human life or a physical assault, or is serving a protective order as defined in Section 6218 of the Family Code, or is serving a gun violence restraining order as defined in Section 18100, that person shall take temporary custody of any firearm or other deadly weapon in plain sight or discovered pursuant to a consensual or other lawful search as necessary for the protection of the peace officer or other persons present:
This clearly states that law enforcement can confiscate anything that is in plain site. So those expensive Wusthof kitchen knives, perhaps a nice EDC you got for Christmas. Even a nice set of Fiskars scissors that you use for quilting could all be seized. This widens the swath of confiscation and seizure which the police can implement once inside your door.
(3) To determine the eligibility of a person to acquire, carry, or possess firearms, destructive devices, or explosives who is the subject of a criminal investigation, or who is the subject of an investigation into the issuance of either a gun violence restraining order or a firearm seizure warrant, as defined in Section 18100 of the Penal Code, if a part of the criminal investigation involves the acquisition, carrying, or possession of firearms, explosives, or destructive devices by that person.
According to this portion of the bill, you are guilty until proven innocent. While traditionally this section deals with mental patients with known histories, all it takes is being the person of interest in an investigation to get you disarmed. You might even be an innocent bystander to the search and wind up being ensnared in it all. At which point your lawyer fees will be high In the meantime you will have your property seized. How many won’t be able to afford to fight a long legal battle? How many will simply part with their property, becoming victim to an overreaching nanny state, driven by subjective enforcement of the laws?
So there you have it folks. The bad and bad of the situation here in California.
What is being deemed as a potential life saver in regards to mental health intervention in reality cuts a huge swath through numerous areas in which many will be ensnared. And when this fails to stop the next person unhinged and determined to cause carnage, then what? We will want to ban something else, or perhaps go for gold and ban guns, and knives altogether.
One final note: this bill does not involve mental health professionals. This is a judicial proceeding with no doctors involved what so ever. If this doesn’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up than you are not paying attention.